Shingo Okuda, an executive with G.S. Electech, admitted on Thursday to his role in an international conspiracy to rig bids and fix prices on auto parts. Okuda pleaded guilty in Kentucky federal to one count of price-fixing and one count of bid rigging. He will now serve 13 months in a United States prison. In addition to jail time, Okuda will also pay a $20,000 criminal fine and has agreed to assist the Department of Justice with its current auto-parts investigation. Okuda was originally indicted by a grand jury in September and charged with violating the Sherman Antitrust Act.
According to the indictment, Okuda and co-conspirators participated in meetings and conversations to discuss bids and price quotations from as early as January 2003 through February 2010. They coordinated to suppress and eliminate competition in the automotive parts industry by agreeing to rig bids and fix prices on speed sensor wire assemblies sold to Toyota in the United States and across other regions. These wires connect a sensor on each wheel to the anti-lock brake system and instruct it when to engage to avoid uncontrollable skidding.
G.S. Electech pleaded guilty to its involvement in the price-fixing conspiracy in 2012 and agreed to pay a $2.75 million criminal fine. It is one of 27 companies that have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty in this conspiracy. According to the Department of Justice, the accused companies have agreed to pay a total of nearly $2.3 billion in fines.
Okuda becomes the 36th individual charged in the department’s ongoing investigation. Twenty-six have already pleaded guilty.
The case is U.S. v. Shingo Okuda, case number 2:13-cr-00051, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.